Von D. at Loft 168, February 26

Von D

Loft 168

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Better than: Kat Von D from LA Ink

Out on the sidewalk a block away from Loft 168, we could already hear the metal grates over closed storefronts reverberating with bass. Always a good sign.

Less promising, though, was the lack of activity around the venue's front door. It was the first dubstep event the club has thrown since its recent shift in management. So it's not surprising that the party was under-attended. It is, however, a shame. The modern and classy NYC loft-style layout was a perfect space for the sharp, clean bass lines Parisian DJ Von D. spilled out into the early morning hours. But the sparse young crowd (many of the attendees appeared to be barely 18) on the dance floor was not enough to match the DJ's dynamic and very physical performance.

His post at the tables was set behind two rose-glowing chandeliers. On the back wall, a bold black-and-white floral wallpaper provided a pleasant backdrop. Throughout the rest of the loft, fragmented mirrors, patterned papers and other textured items line the walls. In lounge areas that project from the main rooms, inviting modern furniture adds to the aesthetic. The acoustics were great, the music falling on the room from six large speakers around the main DJ area. The place would serve well as a stage for large electronic music parties if it could gather some more steam.

For his part, it didn't seem like Von D. gave a fuck about the turnout. Totally absorbed in his music, he slid back and forth across the turntables, expertly weaving intricate, contrasting, and surprising combinations of sound, often using Serato Scratch, a tool that allows traditional vinyl-style mixing and scratching with a digital music library. The Miami Dubstep crew, including Gooddroid, Somejerk, and Methodus, warmed up the party, bouncing their heads from behind Von D.'s equipment, and stepping in to help save the music when Von D.'s computer crashed not once, but twice.

Before and after the interruptions, though, Von D. kept the mix intriguing: Caribbean steel drum, a chug-a-lug undertow, '80s superhero theme music, apocalyptic instrumentals, Asian girls' voices, a rattlesnake, and sexy, wiggly bass. At some points, it was groovy, gentle electronic lounge music. At other times, the beat grew more aggressive, even exuding a drum 'n' bass influence. The crowd waxed and waned in waves, occasionally fading almost to non-existence, only to resurge a few minutes later. The DJ kept his output and his grin consistent, despite the ebb and flow.

Critic's Notebook

The Crowd: Many skinny and nearly androgynous high school boys in preppy outfits; pretty young girls; dirty, overweight hippie-types; hard core electronic music lovers in black t-shirts.

Random Detail: Gooddroid's hair looks like a morbid and mangled My Little Pony mane.

Overheard in the Crowd: You don't "overhear" much of anything when the bass is pumping that loud.

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Camille Lamb Guzman is a journalist who writes on wellness, travel, and culture. She is also finishing a book of creative nonfiction.